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The Daily Rundown

News/Business. NBC's Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd discusses the day's top political stories. New.

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Us 17, Boston 16, Washington 11, Spiriva 6, Chuck 4, Newtown 4, Fema 4, Chris Jansing 4, Copd 3, The City 2, United States 2, Pat Toomey 2, Campbell 2, Fbi 2, Pete Williams 2, Waco 2, Tucson 2, Pennsylvania 2, Gabby 2, John Mccain 2,
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  MSNBC    The Daily Rundown    News/Business. NBC's Chief White House correspondent  
   Chuck Todd discusses the day's top political stories. New.  

    April 18, 2013
    6:00 - 7:00am PDT  

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terrorists say they want is kind of bad for the future of your political career. what did you learn? >> i learned that i want to thank john mccain for being a maverick once again. >> thank you, john mccain. >> i appreciate his vote. i'm disgusted otherwise. >> thank you, pat toomey. >> and joe manchin. >> you did what reflects what people want to know. they asked me who voted no and who voted yes. >> there you go. it's on both of our twitter feeds. >> i love your influence on twitter. >> joe, if it's way too early, what time is it? >> it's time for "morning joe," the always chipper happy "morning joe." stick around for chuck todd. he's got "the daily rundown."
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a shocking explosion wednesday night in texas. there's a lot to get to on this thursday, april 18th edition of "the daily rundown." we've got the latest on the investigation in boston. the senate gun vote failure. the gang of eight unveiling their immigration bill and mark sanford's comeback complications. we begin with what you just saw there. massive devastation in a tiny city of west, texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded just before 8:00 p.m. last night. it shook the area with the same power as a small earthquake. it sent a mushroom cloud into the sky. the area immediately surrounding the plant was devastated. homes and businesses were flattened for several blocks around the plant. a high school, a nursing home, an apartment complex were all in
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the blast zone. >> it rattled everything in the house. it took my breath away. >> the school is gone. the apartments are gone. it's horrible. >> massive. just like iraq, just like oklahoma city. >> between 5 and 15 people have been killed. the dead are believed to include firefighters who were responding to the fire at the plant when it blew up. at least 160 people have been injured. officials say they are still looking for victims. >> there is massive devastation in the downtown west area. i will tell you at this point they are still in the search and rescue phase and they are currently going from door to door, house to house, business to business still looking for wounded and injured people that have not been able to get out
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because of their injuries. >> nbc's charles hadlock is in the city of west, texas, not too far from waco. a couple of things. number one, is everything safe now with this fire? is everything put out? are we out of danger? are folks there out of danger? >> reporter: the authorities say that the city is out of danger of any type of further explosions because of the nitrogen and other products that were made in this fertilizer plant on the north side of town. they say the fire was under control in the early morning hours. it's now raining. the temperatures have dropped into the 50s here so they say the danger of further fire and explosion is over here. the grieving is just beginning. a large part of this town is devastated. flattened by the concussion of the explosion that happened late yesterday. they got an initial fire report at 7:29 local time last night
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and by 7:45 they realized the fire was out of control and the fire chief ordered all of his men out of the burning plant. it was too late. seven minutes later the plant exploded. the explosion could be felt up to 70 miles away. i was in kaufman county covering the d.a. murders there and i was inside a building and the windows shook. we thought it's not supposed to be raining. the thunderstorms aren't supposed to be here for several hours. that must have been a big gust of wind. a few minutes later the cell phones started going off and we knew it was much worse than that. a terrible explosion here in the city of west. here are the latest numbers. 160 people injured. the fatality count is somewhere between 5 and 15. local authorities say between three and five firefighters are among the dead and possibly one law enforcement officer is missing. and our affiliate in houston
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kprc is reporting that the mobile morgue has been dispatched to west. that's an indication they intend find more bodies in the rubble. >> i know this is being treated as a crime scene. is that just out of an assumption of taking precaution here that it could be or do they know something? >> reporter: it's the world we live in, chuck. they are going to try to rule out the crime right away and focus on what they really believe it is and that's an industrial accident. and it's an industrial accident that sadly has been a part of texas history. back in 1947, in texas city, texas, two ships loaded with ammonia nitrate, same product here exploded killing thousands of people. it's the worst industrial accident in all of the united states. >> what about the first responders in west, texas?
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did they have the ability to deal with a disaster like this? experience and training? there have been some questions about that this morning. >> reporter: they have what they call mutual aid here. when the fire call went out and first out of town ambulance arrived, they got on the radio and called for more help. they said send us every ambulance. send us every helicopter you have. that's what happened. all the medical helicopters from waco, dallas, tyler, came to this area to help in the rescue of the wounded here in town. and by about 1:00 a.m., the texas department of public safety said that all of the injured people had been evacuated from the town but they were still going door by door, block by block, what is left of this town to try to find any remaining survivors. chuck? >> all right. charles hadlock in west, texas, for us. charles, thanks. we'll have the latest on the boston bombing probe in a moment. turning now to the first major
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legislative defeat of the president's second term. four months after president obama called the country to action in the wake of the newtown shootings, using all of the power of the presidency to push gun safety measures, every measure he championed went down to defeat on the senate floor. when the compromise took shape, there was optimism they could get something through the senate but this bill to expand background checks for gun buyers only managed to win 54 votes. it needed 60 to move forward. >> shame on you! >> there will be order in the senate. >> the tucson shooting survivor who wrestled a third gun clip away from gerald loughner
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screamed when they heard the measure had failed and were escorted out of the capitol. four democrats voted no and four republicans voted for it. after the background check legislation which the white house believed had the best chance of passing was defeated. one by one the senate blocked proposals to ban assault weapons, limit magazines and by agreeing to a 60-vote threshold on all amends, democrats held off passage of republican amendments they believed would weaken or kill the bill. an amendment sponsored by john cornyn allowing gun owners with carry conceal weapon permits to take the gun into other states. guess what? it got more votes than manchin-toomey but failed to win. 12 democrats voted for the cornyn amendment. the most bipartisan of all of the gun amendments yesterday. the fact tells the story of the gun debate better than any
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other. the rapid series of votes in the senate was a case of mutually assured dysfunction. neither side wanted majority to rule and in the end the president did get what he asked for. a vote. realism about prospects of gun control measure meant while pushing the issue he sent a low bar for victory. it was clear gun legislation was going nowhere in the house and the white house knew this moment would come eventually. it just came more abruptly than the white house ever expected. it was an angry president obama who responded to the defeat during a statement in the rose garden with newtown families and former congresswoman gabby giffords by his side. >> instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. they claimed it would create some sort of big brother gun registry. those lies up set an intense minority of gun owners and that
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in turn intimidated a lot of senators. this was a pretty shameful day for washington. >> it's been a while since the president has shown this level of anger publicly. he clearly doesn't believe he lost fair and square on this. the president previewed how democrats may end up running against republicans in 2014 trying to paint them as objects instructi -- obstructionists. >> i see this as just round one. >> lines are drawn on immigration. the senate gang of eight holds a news conference to formally roll out their bill this afternoon. opponents in the senate plan a news conference at the same time to launch their campaign to kill the bill. can't help but wonder does high profile debate of gun legislation affect immigration? with enough time and rhetoric they may be able to kill that?
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or has the emotion been taken out of the immigration debate to the extent that opponents don't see the same opportunity. we showed you those polls. there's a reason we knew guns had little chance in the senate and why immigration does have a real chance. it's going to be a rocky road. let's go to boston. the president and first lady are on the way to attend an interfaith service two hours from now to remember the victims of monday's bombings. hopes are high that officials may close in on a pair of suspects in monday's deadly attack. however, we should stress there have been no arrests as this network has reported all along. what we do know is that officials are looking closely at surveillance video that shows a man leaving a backpack outside the restaurant with a second bomb went off and they are looking for a man he was talking to. he was captured on video on a cell phone. they have decided not to release any pictures of the men they are looking for and they've had no
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briefings yesterday and none are scheduled for today. pete williams joins me now live with the latest. pete, the fact that the fbi is withholding these photos, what is the reason? they've been wanting public help from the beginning of this investigation. but they don't seem to want to put this in public just yet. what's holding them back? >> not yet. i would guess frankly by the end of today it's a likelihood we'll begin to see these pictures. it just depends on whether they can run the string out that they have and identify them on their own. they would prefer to do it that way of course because that way they can preserve some element of surprise here. the problem is they don't know who these people are. they are focused especially on two people now. two young men and they don't know who they are so they what they want to do is find where they are and question them and see what they were up to. they would prefer to do that on
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their own if they can. so far they have not been able to. i believe they will release these pictures and it may happen today, chuck. >> the fact they would release the pictures, that would be then them saying we need help finding these guys and identifying them. if you know them, let us know. >> precisely. if they do this, they will be careful in how they describe them. they will say based on what we've seen, we want to talk to them so we know one way or another what their status is. they won't describe them as suspects or persons of interest but say we need help in finding these two people. >> where is it that she got this video from? i heard various reports. it was the video from a department store. is that where they ended up finding this needle in the haystack? >> that was a key indicator but they now have several pictures of these men from all the bonanza of pictures that people have given them. it makes sense that they might have been put on it initially by the surveillance camera on a department store across the street and down the block a bit
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from the second bombing site. it's mounted high up on the building so it can look down on the crowd and get a bird's-eye view. if you are just standing in the crowd with your camera or cell phone, you are not going to be able to see very far deeply in the crowd but see people immediately in front of you. >> we see a lot of movies and stuff about facial recognition software. what ability -- how easy or hard is it for the fbi? they have a picture and they're searching for somebody. how hard is it for them to get an identity? >> facial recognition software just says, okay, look at this face. now tell us in what other pictures this face shows up. it doesn't say look at this face and tell us who it is. you can try to run it through various data bases but if these people aren't in a data base, there's no way facial recognition software can tell you who they are. it can just say where else might they show up.
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that can be very valuable in sorting through these pictures but it doesn't give you a name and phone number. >> all right. pete williams on the case for us. as always, the voice of reason here at the family of nbc networks. thank you, sir. >> okay. we are following an incredible amount of breaking news this morning. emergency crews are searching through the rubble in texas trying to find survivors from that massive fertilizer plant explosion. we expect to hear from officials there in texas and in fact we have that right now. instead of going to break, brwel bring you this press conference right now. >> my speaking up is about this. all i can tell you is good luck. >> 30 seconds out. we'll ask you not to step up.
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>> we are waiting now for a briefing here in west, texas, from authorities. as you can see they're doing mike test here to give us an update on exactly what's going on. a massive fertilizer plant. a fire started. firefighters were fighting it and then the explosion as that was happening. here's the briefing. >> bear with me on my voice. i'll talk the best i can and give you as much as i can but you're going to have to bear with me. if we get to the point of asking questions towards the end of this again, please speak loudly enough where i can hear you so i don't have to keep asking you what, what, what. okay. here's where we stand at this point. eventually probably in the next couple of hours i will be
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getting some relief. somebody will come in and take over my spot. i don't know who that is. for those of you that don't know me, i am a waco police sergeant for the city of waco. i'm the spokesperson for waco pd. my name is sergeant william patrick swanton. i'm the spokesperson for the police department in waco. we got called out here last night about 9:30 and we've been here ever since. i don't work for west pd. i don't work for mclennan county. those guys are tied up at this point so we're helping every bit that we can. it's not just us. there are numerous agencies, law enforceme enforcement, fire, first aid, responders, red cross, federal agencies, lots of folks are here and west has seen a tremendous outpouring of support in a tremendous community involvement.
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they have got together with each other, are leaning on each other and are very supportive. what i will try to give you at this point is a little bit more than we had before. i ask you again to bear with us as this is a bit of a tedious process down there. they are being very thorough. they are taking their time in their searches and i assure you they are not going to move fast because you all want more information. they are going to move at the speed they need to. we will try and keep you updated with what they're doing but understand that being in law enforcement 32 years i know not to bother those guys. i know what they're doing. those guys and gals out there are in a hard gut wrenching job at this point and they're doing the best that they can. that being said, i can tell you that before i leave this morning once i get a replacement here, i will make sure that we do one last briefing with you to
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introduce whoever it is going to be to take my spot and we'll make sure that everybody is aware that i'm no longer here and that whoever it is taking over my role and will be your go-to person for however long that will be. okay. so far what i have new for you is that at 11:45 this morning, governor perry will be doing a press conference at the dps headquarters in austin, texas. if you have affiliate stations, support staff, people that you can send there, they will be doing that again dps headquarters at 11:45. should be fairly informative about what he knows and what he can release and what he is doing and what his office and what the federal folks have offered to assist the community of west here as well. at 7:00 this morning, our ground
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team for lack of a better word, the folks that are there doing the search and rescue, the administrative part of that, the folks that include mclennan county sheriff's department, west police department, ems, fire, emergency management, atf, the state fire marshal and several other agencies, i know i'm forgetting some or don't know of some that are there, but will assure you there is a huge organization of mixed groups that are working together to still find survivors, to still find people that are injured, and are doing their job of going door to door. they had a briefing at 7:00 this morning with the administration there. they are continuing their search and rescue efforts. they have not changed anything that they have been doing because of weather, because of
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rain, because it got cold. they are continuing to search for survivors or injured people to make sure that we get them the medical help if they are still there. that being said, i don't know how many folks may still be trapped in rubble. they have not been able to give me much more on the damage other than to say that there is a significant area around the fertilizer plant that has been destroyed. homes have been destroyed. there are homes flattened. part of that community is gone. they are going again door to door. they are still searching. the weather did help us in some aspects with the chemical part of the fire. obviously keeping the chemicals down out of the environment filtering down with the rain. last thing i heard about the fire at the fertilizer plant.
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it was smoldering. they felt more comfortable as time goes on and are feeling better about the fire there. there were still several fires from homes that were destroyed. those fires are smoldering as well. i can tell you there is nothing out of control there at this point. there's no fire out of control. there's no chemical escape from the fertilizer plant that's out of control. they are working to contain everything that they have in that area and are doing a fantastic job in very harsh circumstances in a very rough terrain as you can imagine. i've had several requests from many of you about trying to get into the area. i will tell you i don't know when or if that is going to happen. i will tell you that the folks that are on the ground securing that neighborhood have said there are unidentified people in the neighborhoods. there has been a small amount of
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looting to my understanding. we are securing that neighborhood as best we can meaning that everybody that is in there will either be law enforcement, first responders, medical, somebody with a reason and an immediate reason for being there. i can't tell you the number of looters whether they have been caught. i can tell you there has been reports of people down there. whether they are going into homes or just taking things off the streets that they're finding, i don't know. that's a significant concern to us. this is a community that we are going to do our absolute best to protect and if that means offending some folks by not letting them come home right away to keep them safe, keep their neighborhood safe, then we'll do that and we'll apologize later for putting some people out. i can assure you as media that it is not safe for you to be down there right now due to the
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conditions of the homes and the ongoing smoldering fires. again, nothing out of control but we don't want to put anybody in harm's way and get anybody injured. at some point i assume they'll get you down there and let you see the devastation that we're talking about. i think it will be pretty dramatic for you all to actually be able to see and piece together with your stories about what you're hearing me talk about all morning. at some point that will occur. i don't know when. i apologize for not being able to give you a time line on that. that's just -- it is what it is. that will happen. i don't know when. that will be up to somebody else to do because i will be gone. there are no new numbers. there are still firefighters missing. i don't know if i told you in the last press briefing or not that one of the -- >> a very detailed briefing
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there. here's what we learned that's new. this morning they are still finding survivors. the search and rescue mission continues. he also talked about the concern that there's been a small amount of looting that has taken place in some neighborhoods that they are trying to prevention that. and that there will be more briefings later this morning. as you heard at the end there's no new numbers. they know there are still missing firefighters and it's unsafe for folks to go back to their homes that were evacuated and he obviously had plenty of warnings for the news media not to go in there yet. the safety concerns have to do with structural issues. let me bring in former pennsylvania governor and the first homeland security secretary of the united states, tom ridge. mr. ridge, nice to see you, sir. the protocol secretary or governor now? >> either one. i'll respond to both.
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>> the white house said it's fema taking the lead federal role for now in something like this. locally they are treating it as a crime scene. essentially just to rule it out. this issue -- i'm sure the issue of plants that could be of danger that somebody could do something, this was something that was of concern to homeland security all the time. the safety and how do you deal with these things, right? >> i think the primary concern would have been reflected in how hopefully people had trained for this kind of explosion. one of the things that fema has done and more dramatically the positive results of what they've been able to do over the past ten years through the department of homeland security is grants to states for training, for exercises, to definitely mutual aid protocols profoundly demonstrated with the response to the tragedy and horror up in boston so fema has a role to play and it's playing a role right now obviously with the
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folks in that is that texas community. >> is there a focus on trying to get communities around places small towns where chemical plants or fertilizer plants to make sure first responders have those specialty training? >> it's a great question. i'm not in a position to answer that. i do know that for example within pennsylvania we relied heavily on volunteer services. these are men and women who just -- >> got to love them. >> we know what they do. the question is how committed they are to their community. this is a small community. whether or not they had any special training -- one would like to think they did. there have been other fertilizer explosions before. there are lessons learned. whether or not either fema or the local police and fire department and emergency responders had taken those previous experiences, lessons learned and applied them, i'm
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not in a position to comment there. >> the incidents with ricin or the potential of ricin. is this a case where the systems worked? the new way that mail is done and it's all cordoned off and tested before it ever gets to a united states senator's office, united states congressman's office or the president of the united states. the fact that it was discovered and is this a case of the system working? >> after september 11th, 2001, there were many changes that the public sees and many they don't. one of the more fundamental ones because of the anthrax incident was channeling all of that mail through a separate facility to detect for these kinds of pois n poisons and toxic chemicals. wi it's one of the many changes that make us a more resilient country. >> how much do we not learn about sometimes? is this a case where this would
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have been something we may not have learned about but because of what happened in boston everybody is on higher alert? >> i remember vividly i got sworn in on october 8th by then there had been several anthrax attacks and several thereafter. one of the first problems we had was the fact the field tests were inferior and a lot of false positives. horrible hoaxes. i would like to think in intervening ten years the fields tests and it seems from what i heard that field tests that said envelopes contained ricin were confirmed and they'll confirm at a higher level of scientific inquiry. that modest improvement is a significant change in how we deal with incidents like this. just better field tests. >> we know that there's been a debate inside law enforcement community moving out of the boston investigation about when to release these pictures in public. and there are some who believe the public could be helpful in
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finding these guys and there are some that are worried there will be too much of a crush of public help. if you were in the middle of these debates, where would you be? >> you know, i guess if there's another -- i don't quite understand it myself. if you are looking to identify an individual or individuals but for the photograph there's no other information or evidence that points to specific individuals, you would like to think somebody in the community, maybe they rented an apartment. maybe they shopped at a store. they got their gas somewhere. someone would recognize the photos. right now i think this is a very difficult and challenging investigation. piece by piece labor intensive. i won't second-guess the law enforcement community on this one. i do wonder why not. i'm not going to second-guess. >> right now you would lean on the side of get the public's
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help. if we have pictures. you think some of the concern is what if these aren't the guys or if they're not at 100%, is that the issue you think potentially that they don't want to put these two people on here and what if it turns out they weren't a part of it? >> that's part of the psychology of resistance. you don't want to falsely accuse. i haven't seen videos nor has anyone else. they seem pretty confident that they either were involved directly, indirectly, perhaps had more information about it. for that reason again unless you thought they just suddenly came to the boston area and they hadn't laid down roots, they were not living there, they weren't conducting their personal affairs in the community, releasing it wouldn't do you much good. chances are good there's a presence in or around boston and they went through various activities like all of us do. gas, groceries, apartment, whatever. somebody might be able to recognize them. >> tom ridge, a lot of experience at dealing with these things. i appreciate you sharing your wisdom with us. up next, we'll talk to ka
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carlie soto. her sister was killed at sandy hook. there's this morning's prayer service in boston. "the daily rundown" only on msnbc. we'll be right back. i'm here in your home, having a pretty spectacular tuesday. ♪ but i don't notice the loose rug at the top of your stairs. and that's about to become an issue for me. ♪ and if you got the wrong home insurance coverage, my medical bills could get expensive. so get allstate. [ dennis ] good hands. good home. make sure you have the right home protection. talk to an allstate agent. bob will retire when he's 153, which would be fine if bob were a vampire. but he's not. ♪ he's an architect with two kids and a mortgage. luckily, he found someone
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>> families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders. not just to honor memory of their children but to protect the lives of all of our children. a few minutes ago a minority in the united states senate decided it wasn't worth it. >> president obama yesterday. he was standing alongside newtown families and other victims of gun violence including former congresswoman gabby giffords expressing his frustration over the senate's inability to push through any stricter gun legislation. today the newtown families are
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pushing forward figuring out what the next steps are for gun legislation. with me now is carlie soto. her sister, victoria, was killed in the newtown shooting. you spent a lot of time on capitol hill learning the ropes of becoming a lobbyist. trying to go one by one to convince people to do this. what were the conversations like with folks that you saw ending voting against your wishes? >> heartbreaking. you tell your story. you tell how your loved one died. they just look at you with this blank look. there's no compassion in their eyes. they don't care. they'll vote no any way. i can feel it in the room and with their responses that they give. >> when you watched the vote yesterday, what was your
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reaction? >> we knew before going into the vote into the gallery that we weren't going to get 60 votes we needed. we also had hope that it could go through. it didn't go the way we wanted. it was heartbreaking to see our senators say your loved ones died. oh well. >> what are the next steps for the newtown families? >> keep fighting. we're not going away. we'll keep fighting until something happens. until change is made. the feeling that me and my family and everyone else has that has lost one to gun violence is a horrible feeling. we don't want anyone else to feel the pain that we have to feel. >> the president seemed angry. there was a point where he was upset. he was referring to what senator rand paul had said that he
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accused the president of using you and other newtown families as props. what do you say to that criticism? >> that's just an awful thing. we're not props. he is standing with us. helping us fight our fight for our loved ones. and if you think that, then you are just absurd. that's an awful thing to think. >> you look at what you got done in the state of connecticut and what you see in other states and the fact that the issue is being brought up more in washington than it was during the presidential campaign for instance. do you see this as progress that this yesterday wasn't the end, it was the start of what could be a long fight? >> it definitely was just the start. we knew going into it like i said that we weren't going to get 60 votes but they also knew that we're not going away. we'll fight this until change is made. >> all right.
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carlee soto, i'll leave it there. i'm with the president when you say i don't know how you guys do it. throwing yourself in the middle just months after mourning the loss of someone, mourning the loss of your sister. my condolences to you. i'm impressed with your bravery to do this. >> thank you very much. this morning the president and first lady are on their way to boston as we speak where they will attend an interfaith service dedicated to the victims of the boston marathon companies. joining me now is chris jansing. we know it will be a packed auditorium. a lot of dignitaries are going to be there. republicans and democrats alike. >> i just made my way through the crowd. it's a huge line out there. this cathedral across the street holds about 2,000 people. officially the name of the interfaith service is healing our city but i think from what i've heard talking to people maybe the headline in the boston
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globe describes it even better. prayer service to be a defiance of terror because that's how people here feel. they are not going to allow what happened with this bombing to keep them from gathering together to honor these victims. as you have said, there's going to be a huge contingent. not just the mayor but four former governors. romney, patrick. the famous cellist is going to play. he was a student at one time nearby at harvard. and the president himself is going to be talking about healing. this role of comforter in chief is one that he knows all too well having been to ft. hood and to tucson and to aurora and then of course most recently to newtown, connecticut. i can tell you i was at memorial services at three of those four previous places and afterwards it really does seem to help the people, the victims, the
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community. i spent a good bit of yesterday in dorchester, which is the community where the youngest victim, just 8 years old is from. it's not surprising how much they are hurting and reality of what happened here is setting in after the shock is wearing off. it means a lot to them that the president will be here today. it is an interfaith service. there will be representatives from christian faiths, the chief rabbi here and cardinal o'malley. people are waiting for the words from the president, chuck. >> all right. chris jansing, we'll have that live here on msnbc at 11:00 a.m. when you talk about community experiences with the president there, i've seen clips last night of the boston bruins game where the entire crowd belted out "the national anthem" in this emotional and patriotic cry. chris jansing on the scene for us, thank you. we'll have more on the impact of that texas explosion next on "the daily rundown."
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we'll have the latest on the immigration bill that rolls out today. the business of washington continues. we'll be back on this very busy thursday. for the times you need to double-check the temperature on the thermometer, be ready. for high fever, nothing works faster or lasts longer. be ready with children's motrin.
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read and consider it carefully before investing. risk includes possible loss of principal. >> it was a pretty horrific scene some of the injuries that we saw. there was probably double digit people standing in front of me videoing that were closer than i was and after the blast they were nowhere to be seen. >> we continue to watch this breaking news event out of a small town west, texas. the town's name. a fertilizer plant explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others. search and rescue is still going on and they're still finding survivors. but some of these folks may be trapped in collapsed homes and buildings that are surrounding the plant. that effort may be complicated by some severe weather that is headed toward the area. we're bringing in our nbc meteorologist bill karins with a look at that issue right now.
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so, bill, weather obviously on one hand is cooling things down and we know that means there won't be new explosions but it will set back search and rescue. >> it already has. they didn't have power so there wasn't much lights. they're debris fields trying to go through homes which isn't safest for first responders any way. they have been working for first light to come but unfortunately they've had rain all morning long and they haven't had ideal conditions there either. let me show you the town itself. this is the northern portion of west, texas. a small town roughly over 2,500 people. no more than 3,000. on the right-hand side of your screen, that's the fertilizer plant. it's not a big place. it's a small fertilizer plant. it had three chemical tanks silo type buildings and then two main buildings. there's where the fire started and then the explosion at 7:50. here's what we do know. the middle school across the street was relatively almost completely empty thankfully. all of the kids and everyone was
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long gone by the time the explosion happened. there's a lot of danimage there. the thing they are concerned about and they consider where firefighters were that were missing were in the nursing home trying to evacuate this nursing home because the fire was so close by when explosion happened. we heard in the last press report that 60 to 70 homes were devastated to the north of the nursing home. that's where the most destruction was done. 60 to 70 homes in that area were just leveled. again there's west, texas, bottom of your screen above waco. the rain is just about over with. hopefully it looks like we should have some pictures coming out of there as we go throughout the late morning here. we're unable to get our helicopter out of dallas to fly because of these thunderstorms to see how bad it is. once the skies begin to clear here i think we'll see the devastation shortly. >> all right. bill karins with that very detailed look at how the weather is impacting west, texas. thank you, sir. when we come back, the business of washington does continue. we'll talk more about what
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this bill has a real chance. this is an example of washington working. if you would have watched the eight of us in those lengthy, long and sometimes contentious meetings in that little room and everyone meeting in the middle. >> that was senator chuck schumer expressing optimism on the gang of eight's immigration proposal. all eight senators will appear together to roll out the bill in just a few hours. they had delayed it a couple of days in the wake of the boston bombing. let's bring in the thursday gang. kristen welker, "thyme" magazine's michael crowley and michael, the thing, the interesting thing about watching immigration opponents this morning is that you can see that they feel emboldened by the gun defeat. >> yeah. >> as in to say there was bipartisan leadership involved in the gun debate. there is here, but they can
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still defeat this. what's different? >> i'm not sure that it is all that different. i guess a key point would be that i think unlike the gun debate, the leadership of the republican party is invested in this. i think when it came to gun control, top figures in the republican party kind of felt like we don't need to do this. might have had mixed feelings. for immigration they felt like demographic reasons, for the future of the democratic party got to get something done and very similar is the fact that you have a dysfunctional congress and you have a base with extreme intensity of preference so there's sort of broad support for it, but there's intense opposition, and that is always a very strong thing in washington. >> kristen in the white house, they don't want it to spill off. >> right. >> they knew guns was an uphill battle. >> absolutely. >> just didn't think they would lose so quickly. >> they didn't think they would lose so quickly, but moving forward they don't want it to get in the way of immigration and when you talk to people in the white house working on this, talking to people on the hill, they believe that they are optimistic about this because the politics are different and
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because they think there's a strong coalition of people who are supporting this. faith groups, unions, labor groups. grover norquist is going to be at the rollout today. there are going to be 12 different groups, so i think that that is what they see as being really a key difference. >> you know, the question is washington, you know, it used to be you could lose some, win some and washington could juggle. the question now is can washington juggle. is it an intense, the intense focus on one issue so it was on guns and we saw what happen, interest groups can prevail on that. does that happen with immigration? >> washington can still juggle. talking about three issues and especially over the first quarter of this year. guns, immigration and the economy. i think congress can only handle maybe one or two issues of that, and as we saw right now they dropped the ball on guns. one of them didn't go through. >> what is the fallout on guns? what happens? the president -- michael, he seemed to telegraph how he planned on campaigning on this. he used this issue in a campaign
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mode. the question i wonder is in a year is it still the same message? >> chuck, this goes back to the point i just made about immigration, that the opponents here have intensity and persistence. the supporters of gun control, they may feel strongly about it. maybe a certain intensity and historically what happens, that support, it fades, whereas the opposition remains intent called preference intensity is a really important thing that drives what happens in washington. i think that, you know, one reason that people who did not want to support gun control opposed this kind of general cultural sense, a signifier for where you are on cultural issues. where do you come down on certain -- i think for the president he'll try to spin it the same way which is to portray republican party that's out oftown touch with mainstream america. it falls in with some of these other issues like gay rights and immigration that the gop is out of touching with changing trends? >> interesting to see him try to take the 90% and, you know, we can -- i've got a lot of ways that polling figure is basically off base, but he wanted to take
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the 90% on background check support which does have general support but the intensity matters there. says, hey, 90% of democrats are for this, 90% of republicans were. framed the argument in political terms that he hadn't done yesterday. >> that's absolutely right. what the president said is this is round one, and i've been speaking to officials, andy said what does round two look like? that's being discussed. they don't know the path forward, and if you talk to people on the hill they don't have an appetite for a path forward at this point in time because of immigration. >> john manchin used that as one of his excuses yesterday, that he lost a few republicans, who said, hey, i'm already going to go against my base on immigration, i'm willing to do that on immigration because i think it's good long term for the political party. they don't see that same long-term benefit in guns. >> right, and i think those long-term benefit is really indeed long term. would i say even not this congress but the next congress. if you look at the 2016 elections in the senate, it's the flip of the 2014 psych.
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you have a lot of republicans up in blue states like pat toomey, for example, ron johnson, kelly ayotte. these guys, there might be even a better chance closer to those elections. >> how much was 2014 versus 2016, it was a big difference? it was. got to leave it there. been a very busy day. michael crow by, shira, kristen, got a lot of work to do. >> indeed. >> that's it for this edition. keep watching for the latest. more from texas on the explosion and more on the boston investigation, the interfaith service is set to start in one hour. we will have that live here. we just learned that the president will be meeting with families of those who were injured or killed in those boston marathon bombings. that will happen probably after the service. he'll also meet with those first responders who were there on the scene running towards the bombs and trying to rescue people? anyway, stay with us all day. coming up next, chris jansing.
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i'm meteorologist bill karins. the middle of the country is dealing with a huge storm system. we have severe weather of tracking through areas of arkansas, louisiana and the southeast as we go throughout the day today. also we're dealing with incredible flooding concerns. south of chicago, especially areas of illinois to missouri. dangerous flood threat right throughout the day today into tomorrow. have a great day. [ male announcer ] how do you measure happiness? by the armful? by the barrelful? the carful?
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